by YES! Staff

News and Views from inside the Media Bubble

NC alt-weeklies feel the pain

Perhaps you’ve heard the news: Journalism is seeing some pretty tough times these days — so much so that two of our state’s most venerated alt-weeklies are sucking it up. Our friends in the Triangle, the Independent Weekly, has announced it has laid off two employees from its 35-member staff — a reporter and a promotions coordinator, and reduced its freelance budget by 10 percent. “The downsizing that has hemorrhaged print journalism has also bled into radio, television and even some online sites,” writes Editor Lisa Sorg. “And now the layoffs have seeped into the Indy.” Meanwhile, out west, our friends at the Mountain Xpress have instigated a 5-to- 10-percent salary cut across the board to contend with declines in classified and retail advertising. “Our strategy is to share the pain, so we’re instituting a companywide pay cut,” Publisher Jeff Fobes said. “Everyone feels the pain; everyone should have input into what must be an evolving response to the economy.” Staff at both papers are friends and comrades-in-arms, and we mourn their actions as we applaud their efforts. — BC

Detroit after the end of history

Matt LaBash’s dispatch from Detroit, published in the Dec. 29 issue of The Weekly Standard, begins with this epigram: “This is the place where bad times get sent to make them belong to somebody else, thus, it seems easy to agree about Detroit because the city embodies everything the rest of the country wants to get over.”

I remember flying over what seemed like endless blocks of Detroit at night last Christmas after changing planes at the airport en route to my family gathering in Champaign, Ill. What is everybody up to in that urban expanse, I asked myself. The answer from LaBash either gives some sense of how much better things are here, or how much worse they can get. “How bad is Detroit? Let’s review:” he writes. “Its recently resigned mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, he of the Kangol hats and fivebutton suits, now wears jailhouse orange as he’s currently serving a four-month sentence as part of a plea agreement for perjuring himself regarding an extramarital affair with his chief of staff, which yielded soupy love-daddy text message that would make Barry White yak in his grave. Those in Detroit who are neither recipients of sweetheart contracts nor Kilpatrick family members on the city payroll at inflated salaries think he got off easy. Because what led to the perjury was concealing an $8.4 million payout from city coffers to settle a whistleblower suit brought by cops who’d been fired for investigating, among other things, the murder of a stripper named Strawberry who, prior to her death, was allegedly beat up by Kilpatrick’s wife when she caught her entertaining her husband.” — JG

Huffington Post accused of lifting content from Chicago Reader

Whet Moser, an editor at the Chicago Reader, is accusing The Huffington Post’s newly formed Chicago-focused venture of stealing their copyrighted concert reviews and reprinting them in whole in order to get search engine traffic, says a report posted on Moser also accuses the Huffington Post of absconding stories from the Onion and Time Out Chicago. “Taking an entire concert preview is bush league. Doing it as a practice is just beneath contempt,” Moser writes. “If the future of journalism — which everyone keeps telling me The Huffington Post represents — is a bunch of search-engine optimization scams, we have bigger problems than Sam Zell’s bad investment strategies.” Zell is the owner of The Chicago Tribune. Huffington Post co-founder Jonah Peretti calls Moser’s claims overblown. He characterized a complete re-printing of Chicago Reader content on the Huffington website as a “mistaken editorial call,” and claimed the web publication’s practice of posting links from other news sites is designed to send web traffic to those sites. The headlines on the Huffington Post, Peretti points out, link to the outside site, not to The Huffington Post page with the two to three paragraph excerpt of the other site’s copyrighted story. Moser isn’t alone in his sentiments against The Huffington Post’s aggregation tactics. Kevin Allman, a New Orleans journalist and editor of Gambit Weekly, said he finds The Huffington Post’s idea of starting a whole series of city-focused aggregation sites hypocritical, especially given the site is named after Arianna Huffington, a popular, and now-liberal-leaning columnist. “In other words, professional news gathering organizations have paid professional writers to do professional work, and then Arianna comes in, creates links to their creations, and sells ads on her own page. How progressive,” writes Allman. — KB